Say What? What Your Group Fitness Instructor or Personal Trainer is Trying to Tell You

Group Fitness Instructors and Personal Trainers say some weird things. The words “bellybutton to your spine,” “shoulder blades tucked into your back pockets,” and “push with your thighs” come out of my mouth on a weekly basis. Huh?

So, what do these – and a few more you may have heard in the gym or studio – actually mean? Let’s decode, shall we?

Pull Your Bellybutton into Your Spine
What it means: Basically, suck in your belly. You want to feel your abdominal muscles engaged – like you’re bracing for someone to punch you.
Also synonymous with: “Feel like you are corseted” OR “Try to press your bellybutton into the floor”

Tuck Your Shoulder Blades into Your Back Pockets
What it means: RELAX! We keep a lot of tension in our upper bodies. Drop those shoulder blades. It’s a lot more comfortable and helps with your alignment.
Also synonymous with: “Make sure your shoulders aren’t in your ears” OR “Feel like you are pushing your chest forward and drawing your shoulder blades down and back”

Pretend There’s a String Attached to …/Pretend There’s a Marker …
What it means: Basically, be aware of your body and control your motion. A string attached to each vertebra (or on your head) pulling your body up straight. A marker on your toes, drawing straight lines (I use this one with the single straight leg stretch in Pilates).

Keep a Fist Between Your Chin and Your Chest
What it means: Keep your airway open. The more space you can create between your chin and your chest, the easier it is to breathe (and, as we know, the easier it is to breathe, the easier the work will feel). It will also help you keep your head properly aligned to your spine – making it easier to keep those shoulder blades tucked back down into your back pockets 😉

Be Able to Wiggle Your Toes
What it means: In a squat, you want your weight to stay back in your heels – if you’re doing this, you shouldn’t have any pressure in your toes (thus you’d be able to wiggle them). It’s easier to keep proper alignment, and it’s gentler on your knees and back.
Also synonymous with: “Push your hips back and drop straight down”

Even Circles
What it Means:  This applies to a few different things, but the message is always the same – control your motion. It could mean control your pedal stroke (in Spinning) or don’t allow other body parts to take over a controlled motion (such as leg circles in Pilates).

Feet Lead the Pedals
What it means: In a Spinning class, you should never be going so fast (or have the resistance so light) that the pedals are dragging your feet along with them. Essentially, maintain control of the motion.

Push With Your Thighs
What it means: When you’re cycling – and especially when the resistance starts to get heavy – use the big muscles in your thighs to help you pedal, rather than putting all the work on your toes and calves.

Lift With Your Wrists (or Elbows)
What it means: Focus more on your form (or the closest joint) rather than simply focusing so much on lifting a weight – it will help you stay in alignment because you’re thinking about the entire motion, versus just the end goal.

Looking for a few more? Click here:What Your Group Fitness Instructor is Trying to Tell You | Fitbie. And comment below to share the weird things your instructor or trainer has told you to get you to do what they are trying to get you to do – and if it’s worked!

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5 thoughts on “Say What? What Your Group Fitness Instructor or Personal Trainer is Trying to Tell You

    • Don’t be afraid to ask! I love when people come up to me after class (or sometimes just randomly yell out questions in the middle of class) – it shows that you are interested in learning, not just going through the motions 🙂

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